Suicidal mission

Published: Friday 30 November 2001

the Kenyan government has drawn flak from environmental groups for its decision to cut down more than 68,796 hectares of forest. The groups are calling the decision a politically motivated step that would damage the country's environment and economy.

Last February, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources expressed its intention to cut down the trees without carrying out an environmental impact assessment. As a consequence, environmentalists collected a petition of 32,000 names and sued the government.

Wangari Maathai, head of the Green Belt Movement advocacy group, says, "It's a suicidal mission. To interfere with forests is to interfere with the rain system, the water system and therefore agriculture, not to mention the other industries that are dependent on hydro-electricity."

Kenya will see general elections next year. "The only thing valuable to the politicians are bribes, or to sell the land to finance their campaigns by flouting the law ," says Maathai.

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